Nothing is enough to say given the crisis of character our country is going through right now. At the Co-op, we have been talking, sharing, grieving, and getting to work understanding our part in making our community safe and welcoming. So we start here.
“Hate does not grow well in the rocky soils of
Perhaps this is true, maybe hate does not flourish in Vermont’s rocky ground. But hate is just one facet to the crisis that is racism and white supremacy. Racism, be it manifested through outright police brutality, malpractice in health care, or injustice in our food system, is rooted in the very foundations of our country’s soil. To remove it, we must dig in deep. We must take every opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and do the work needed to grow into a community that is truly committed to building a better, stronger, safe future for all. We must listen to and elevate Black voices. We must educate ourselves. We must take action.
Uprooting racism from our community is not the work of a single Facebook post or blog entry, nor a one time donation, or the viewing of one diversity training video. It is a commitment to pursue all avenues towards dismantling the systems of oppression in our communities and beyond. It is a permanent shift in our priorities. It does not end here.
With that, we are committed to the following actions to support the movement for Black Lives:
- Staff voted for July 2020 Change for Change register donations to go to the Root Social Justice Center in Brattleboro, a hub for racial justice organizing. Going forward, we will continue an annual focus of our Change for Change recipient on racial justice organizing organization or project in Vermont.
- Ten members of the staff, including management, have begun participation in a six month training program by Columinate titled The Abolitionist’s Challenge to help them in “gaining an understanding of how they can commit to eliminating white supremacy in cooperative spaces and in the broader society”. We commit to continued education and training for all staff and board members.
- Staff participants in The Abolitionist’s Challenge, as well as available outside resources, will evaluate our policies addressing implicit and explicit biases. We will create a specific anti-bias and inclusion portion of onboarding training for new staff.
- We have created a Task Force to evaluate pathways to resolution of conflicts that limit escalation to law enforcement involvement where possible. We hope to have available resources and a Deescalation Policy in place by the time we move to our new location in January.
- Cooperatively led business and organizations are the heritage of diverse people; however, currently, much of the information and history that is readily available and taught within cooperative spaces is focused on the (white) Rochdale Pioneers. We commit to educating ourselves and our staff about other historical and current pioneers and including this revised understanding of our heritage in our future staff onboarding and in educational materials at our new store location.
- We will develop a system of tracking our store purchasing from BIPOC owned businesses with the intention of using this data to reevaluate our purchasing guidelines, and increase visibility and success of these businesses in our store.
Our support of Black Lives Matter and commitment to overturning systems of oppression in our community and beyond is not up for debate. We will be continuing to be vocal about our support, we will keep our community up to date on what we are doing within our store, and what education opportunities we can offer to others. We ask that you hold us accountable; if you have suggestions on what we can do to be better, please let us know using one of the methods below:
- Suggestion box in the store (on the left of exit door; can be done anonymously)
- Contact the Board of Directors here: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact the General Manager here: email@example.com